An in-depth review on how Cognizant could help Aston Martin.
Formula 1 is finally back. Last weekend, 10 teams carved the sandy grid of Bahrain for 56 laps to the cheer of twitch streamers and the sparkle of flamboyant Arabian fireworks. Redbull’s prodigal Mad Max threatened to disrupt the mundane Mercedes dynasty, but botched an overtake of 7-time champion Lewis Hamilton in the final gripping moments of the race.
While this was much the same from last year (and the year before, and the year before, and..), there were some exciting newcomers- controversial Nikkita “Mazespin” lasted a mere 3 turns in the first lap, while Yuki Tsunoda made an impressive debut. However, the most interesting newcomer was not a driver, but a green car from Silverstone. While that might sound like the long gone, Irish-emboldened Jordan automotive company, it instead heralded the return of an older brand: Aston Martin.
While Aston Martin struggled to recover from an accident-marred trial run, they grabbed everyone’s attention with their sumptuous Vantage safety cars and AMR-21 racecar draped in the nostalgic British Racing Green. The iconic wing logo shined in the blinding lights, but was merely a reminder beside the larger logo of their main sponsor, Cognizant.
While all cars feature a main sponsor with a different colorway, Aston Martin took particular pride in theirs, asserting Cognizant is a partnership and NOT a sponsorship.
So, what is cognizant, and what is their end of the partnership?
Most people have never heard of Cognizant, though yet again, most people have never heard of BWT, Petronas, and a plethora of other sponsors partners, as most are B2B. If we look at Cognizant’s LinkedIn page, it is quite impressive, yet vague to the average joe.
What a load of jargon. Well, luckily for you, this is an information systems blog, and can help make sense of it for you. Let’s dive in.
Cognizant is a publicly listed (NASDAQ: CTSH) information technology consultancy company, similar to Accenture, Infosys, TCS, Wipro, and others. Being a Fortune 200 company, it is very large with nearly 300,000 employees in 166 locations, with deep pockets; an annual revenue of $16.8 billion USD in 2019. They are an American multinational company with a northern Irish CEO that provides IT services, including digital technology, data mining, consulting, and operation services . So what are each of these, and how can they help Aston Martin?
Digitization is Cognizant’s raison d’être. They provide data and insights through digitalization, and do so through various technologies such as algorithms in machine learning and artificial intelligence, neural networks, cloud databases, and more. In addition to these, they provide services in online security, support, project testing, and core development.
It would take more than a blog post to review the functions of each of these topics, though I will pick and choose those that I suspect are in play for their F1 division.
Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, and neural networks take input of seemingly useless data to output valuable insights, predictions, applications, and models. This is a staple of all F1 teams, though cognizant is an industry leader here and could provide bleeding edge methods and technologies in this field to experiment and try with Aston Martin’s data on the grid. This is largely because Cognizant has already used and created countless algorithms and models from heaps of data, which may allow them to repurpose well trained algorithms for motorsport applications.
Already, every F1 car sports roughly 200 sensors to measure everything from tire grip, fuel consumption, engine performance, brakes, to telemetry in order to optimize performance. All of this data is streamed to servers where it is instantly analyzed by on-site engineers, though there is too much data for them to interpret, leading them to use algorithms to spit out valuable insights on the data. The rate of producing these insights, and the accuracy of them, will greatly improve year to year with new advances in machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence. All of these methods are working together to increase driver times and driver safety; indeed, one of the biggest risks on the grid is human error in decision making and communication. It is conceivable that an AI will notify the driver before an engineer does to change tires or adopt a new strategy, cutting out the latency of a middle man.
Although Cognizant may not have the hardware experience of another sponsor like Siemens, it can still provide support to the team in real-time with added tools for debugging glitches and anomalies in data received from the grid and car. And while Cognizant is not primarily an applications developer, they do have teams that specialize in this, and can work together with Aston Martin to create new modeling software and application ideas for implementation, from the ground up.
Data analyzed from simulations through CFD and FEA can provide improvements to the parts and aerodynamics of the car, and even lead to new engine designs. Cognizant can provide Aston Martin with algorithms that are more mature in interpreting large quantities of data, which could accelerate Aston Martin’s research and development in CFD and FEA.
Cloud databases are another specialty of Cognizant, which optimizes storage of data and information in companies. By optimizing a company’s data, Cognizant’s algorithms save space, money, and time, while providing new insights on the data by cross referencing data and their optimal servers, networks, and locations.
Aston Martin has scaled up from their previous incarnation, Racing Point, with over 500 full time employees and a brand new facility in Silverstone. Optimizing the storage of their data, and learning from it and how to use it, would be especially fruitful in designing their facilities.
Finally, Cognizant can really offer Aston Martin a leg up with their consultancy and operation services, which is again especially timely in their nascent days as they build up their new infrastructure and brand to new fans. Why? Because while Cognizant is B2B, they help companies engage better with their customers B2C, and while their chief goal is to help Aston Martin on the grid, I suspect Aston Martin, as a financially struggling B2C company, will appreciate any help they can get. This means Cognizant will help to reinvigorate enthusiasm in their brand while engaging with more customers. Expect new approaches in ad campaigns and marketing for their consumer cars to follow. I suspect there will be many “racing bred” and “street legal f1” slogans.
All in all, Cognizant seems to indeed be more of a partner than a sponsor, though it is hardly the only sponsor with convenient abilities in data analytics and information systems; HP, Siemens, Citrix, and Crowdstrike, among others, are also present on other cars on the grid. Perhaps more will follow, especially for lower-budget teams that don’t have large enough internal teams and systems to manage their data. Big budget powerhouses like Mercedes can use an oil company like Petronas as their main sponsor for years as they probably a) get paid handsomely by Petronas, and b) Mercedes likely has their own internal division with hundreds of employees devoted to the same exact services that Cognizant provides.
Ultimately, Cognizant is positioned to help Aston Martin move up the grid for years to come, though they are hardly Aston Martin’s biggest partner; that title belongs to Mercedes.
Thanks for reading!